By Dave Lindorff
The Obama administration and BP have clearly been conspiring to hide the magnitude of the Gulf oil disaster from the public. One way they're doing this is by threatening jail terms and $40,000 fines against those who go to document the fiasco.
That is ridiculous. There is not a conceivable justification for banning the media from fully covering this environmental disaster.
The answer is for journalists, and especially photo journalists, to go enmasse to the Gulf and violate the ban. Go ahead. Get arrested in the hundreds, or at least dozens. Let's have a collective defense of the First Amendment! I cannot believe that people are letting this pass. I mean for god's sake, CNN's Anderson Cooper ran a story on the ban. Why isn't he in jail right now for refusing to accede to it?
If the big media companies and their prettified "talent" won't put their bodies and their financial muscle on the line to break this artificial wall of silence, then individual journalists need to do it. (Maybe the corporate media airheads will at least cover the spectacle.)
For the record, if someone will front us the air fare and a few hundred bucks for expenses to cover a couple days in New Orleans, the staff of ThisCantBeHappening! will be down on the beach with cameras and videocams ready to confront the censors. (I trust that there will be attorneys ready to defend me pro bono, and am looking into that now.) You can send contributions using the Paypal button on our website. (Just include a memo saying what the donation is for.)
Meanwhile, if you're a journalist and want to join in such an effort to defend the First Amendment, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of the new independent collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening! His work, and that of colleagues John Grant, Linn Washington and Charles Young, can be found at ThisCantBeHappening.net